Microvolunteering is all about doing useful, charitable tasks when it’s convenient for you. Think about those moments when you’re a little bored and at a loose end. Instead of sighing and watching something rubbish on tv or playing a game you’ve already completed, you could do something to help others. It’s short, easy and can be a great deal of fun. Not to mention it’ll make you feel good, because you’ll be contributing to a great cause.
From joining in a street clean-up to helping online movements gain momentum and counting stars, there are lots of events to get involved in. Many charities and services have set up microvolunteering opportunities, which you can find with a quick internet search. We’ve come up with just a few tips and tricks for getting the most out of volunteering and encouraging some family fun in your spare time.
There are several trending campaigns that you can get involved in wherever you are in the country. And most of them take just a couple of minutes (but feel free to go on for a bit longer if you get into the swing of things)! Check out the hashtags #2minutelitterpick , #2minutebeachclean and #take3forthesea to get a bit of inspiration, or to see if anything is going on in your local area. If not, start your own. Head on down to the beach or community area, like a park, forest or own street, and spend a few minutes picking up some litter and sorting it into recycling. You’ll need to take along some gloves, or ideally a litter grabber, to make sure your clean-up stays safe and fun. Snap a photo of your good deed, show off to the world, and get more people inspired to jump on the trend.
The photos in this post are courtesy of Jenny, who had a charming beach-walk-come-litter-pick with her parents down on the Devon coast.
This is perfect for older children developing passions in particular areas. The idea behind citizen science is to get lots and lots of people working together to collect important data, especially things that would take one person years and years to collect on their own! If you’re a fan of the great outdoors you can join in on some important wildlife counts, like insects or birds in your area. There are lots of family-based opportunities, so you can get the whole family contributing.
But there are lots of tasks you can do at home, too. For example, one fascinating project is to go through photos of stars and log what you find; a perfect challenge for future astronomers.
Alternatively, you can set up your own citizen science project with the Natural History Museum. Check out their site to download resources and find out more.
If you feel passionately about something, it’s important to tell the people who can make a difference. Namely, your local MP and the government. There are lots of petitions online to bring specific events, actions or injustices to the government’s attention, and getting enough signatures forces that discussion to happen. You can search existing petitions on the Parliament website. As a family discuss what kind of positive changes you want to see, and research to see if those petitions are in circulation. From limiting non-recyclable plastics to changing educational examinations, it’s a great way to get your voice heard and start a discussion for change.
Sometimes microvolunteering could just bring a bit of happiness to people. If you’re in a bit of a boring situation where there’s not much to do - for example on an aeroplane or train - why not ask the staff if you can help out in any way. Perhaps you can carry water down the aisles and deliver them to parched passengers, or see if anyone needs an extra blanket. You’ll bring joy to travellers and staff alike.
Charity shops are always looking for donations, with profits going to essential causes all over the world. Have a clear out of toys that you don’t play with anymore, fill an entire bag and take it down to one of your local charity shops. When you go in feel free to ask some questions: how much will they sell your items for? Where does the money go? It’s important to learn more about your donations, and feels that rewarding when you realise where your help is going.
…And the world. We’d love to see your microvolunteering contributions. Share them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #toucanBox. Our favourite snaps could feature in the next issue of toucanBox Magazine!
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